*excluding the players on my list that were already in Japan in 2009
So that’s 5/28 (without the 2009 NPB guys), and the two Koreans were pretty easy predictions. I thought I got Bobby Keppel right too, but when I looked back at my list it was Bobby Korecky that I had guessed.
There were other guys that I took long looks at, but decided to leave out for various reasons. These were the last three in my notes:
Andy Marte –thought he would get an MLB shot with the rebuilding Indians
Carlo Alvarado – the number of 3A innings he threw over the last two years caught my eye; in retrospect I didn’t have enough starters on my list
Jeff Fiorentino – call this one gut feel. I favored slugging left fielder-types in my list, and thought Murton’s MLB experience distinguished him from Fio
Alvarado and Fiorentino signed with the Carp over the winter, while I assume Marte will get another look with Cleveland. Ironically, I would have loved to see the Carp get Marte instead of Justin Huber, but I don’t know if he was ever available.
There’s always a high turnover among foreign players in Japan. This year will be no different, with 30+ players already gone from their 2009 employers. By the end of next season, we’ll have seen 35-45 new players in Japan.
Like most years, the biggest needs around the league are corner outfielders, pitchers, and first basemen. There will be a couple third base and DH spots open as well.
This is mostly my own speculation. Some of the names came out of the Japanese media, but many have not, so take this list with a grain of salt.
CJ Nitkowski - seemed like he had a deal to go back to Japan before Doosan snapped him up off waivers from SK
Rick Guttormson - Orix is looking at bringing Gutto back from Korea; has an NPB no-hitter to his name
Brad Thomas - Thomas has spent the last year or two in Korea, is on Hanshin’s list
Gary Glover – Yet another NPB vet in Korea, Glover had previously pitched for Yomiuri
Mitch Jones - didn’t get a chance in his stint with Nippon Ham, hit 35 home runs in the hitter-friendly PCL this year
Val Pascucci – has been productive in three AAA seasons since returning from his stint with Chiba Lotte
Buddy Carlyle - has been better with Atlanta than he was with Hanshin during the early 00’s
Winston Abreu - lit up AAA again this year, got lit up in the majors; did well in his tenure with Lotte
Kim Dong-Ju – Lotte is reportedly ready to jump on a plan and sign this guy once the FA season opens
Kim Tae-Gyun – Hanshin was scouting Korea over the summer, and this Kim was a name that showed up in reports
Lee Beom-Ho- ditto for Lee
Termel Sledge – won’t be back with Nippon Ham next year; Yokohama, SoftBank reportedly interested
Greg LaRocca – has been productive when healthy, could get a shot somewhere else if Orix chooses not to retain his services
Dan Johnson – batting average side, put in a productive year for Yokohama, still wasn’t retained
Seth Greisinger – has put up three good years in Japan, may not fit into Yomiuri’s plans for next year; Hanshin would gladly take him
Brian Sikorski – posted a great year for Lotte; if they don’t keep him, Yokohama is interested
Mike Hessman - tenured AAA slugger, doesn’t hit for average but walks and has a power bat
Lenny DiNardo – coming off a great AAA season, has never been able to strike MLB hitters out
Bobby Korecky – reliever with nothing left to prove at AAA
Kevin Frandsen – doesn’t fit the power-hitting mold NPB teams usually like, but can play multiple positions and hit for average
Matt Murton – another sharp hitter who has mastered AAA pitching
Chris Shelton – has had two productive MLB seasons, continues to perform at AAA
Brad Eldred – another veteran AAA slugger, though his average has dropped in the last few years
Wily Mo Pena - I thought he was on his way to Japan when the Mets released him during the season
Charlie Haeger - has come up on Hanshin’s list
Rich Hill - he has a Japan-style curveball
Jason Dubois – perhaps the most well-rounded of the AAA sluggers I’ve listed here, Dubois hits for reasonable average and gets on base, at least at AAA
Scott Strickland – was good with the Expos a few years ago, hasn’t gotten another chance
Evan MacLane – rumor is that he’s headed to Japan rather than resigning with the Cardinals
Fringey MLB Guys
Marcus Thames - Hanshin was interested in him a few years ago, but Detroit held on to him and he played pretty well
Eric Hinske – SoftBank was interested last year, and is again this year
Chris Bootcheck – has the velocity to succeed in Japan
Denny Bautista – another hard thrower who’s bounced between AAA and MLB
Sanspo is reporting on Hanshin’s import pitching shopping list, and is naming names. Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi says that Hanshin is after two middle relievers and one starter, to fill in for the departing Scott Atchison and Jeff Williams.
The names we have are:
Adrian Burnside (recently released by Yomiuri)
Brad Thomas (two-year Japan veteran, had been in Korea)
Jo Jo Reyes (Atlanta Braves)
Wil Ledezma (Washington Nationals)
Juan Morillo (Minnesota Twins)
Bob Keppel (Minnesota Twins)
Burnside didn’t appear at all with Yomiuri’s top team this year, so you’d have to figure he’d be a low-risk, low-investment type of signing. Thomas probably fits into the same category.
Reyes is an interesting name. He’s still pretty young, and I had the impression that he was a decent prospect for the Braves at one point. Morillo, as I recall from his time with the Rockies, is a hard thrower with bad command. I don’t know much about the other guys.
Two guys I’d like to see get a shot in Japan, with Hanshin or elsewhere, are Lenny DiNardo and Bobby Korecky. I couldn’t understand why DiNardo didn’t get more of a look in Oakland, when I saw him I thought he could contribute in the bigs (though I didn’t realize he had such a troubling k/bb rate). And Korecky is a guy who I haven’t seen, but has performed consistently well in the minors but never gotten a real shot to last in MLB.